Government officials, including Russia, call for dialogue in tackling cybersecurity threats


Multilateral collaboration and information exchange between nations is essential in combating cybersecurity threats, especially as global systems are increasingly interconnected today. Citizens must also take responsibility for their personal cyber hygiene amid the growing adoption of the Internet of Things (IoT), where one compromised device can bring down an entire network.

There should be open dialogues and communication channels through which governments can share details of cyber threats, delegates urged during a ministerial roundtable held Wednesday at the International Cyber ​​Security Week conference in Singapore.

“Cyber ​​threats pose an existential threat to life as we know it. We must look beyond individual countries and interests to work together for our collective good,” said Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, Ghana’s Minister of Communications and Health. digitization. “Until we realize this and learn to engage with each other and promote dialogue and the sharing of experiences, we will continue to remain at risk.”

She highlighted the need for greater international cooperation and capacity building, with a focus on building the basic digital skills needed to protect individuals and societies.

Owusu-Ekuful added that nations should seek to build trust in digital systems and allow international rules of engagement to work for the global community.

Artur Lyukmanov, acting director of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s international information security department, also stressed the need for open communications between governments, where it was important for nations to have points of contact and be able to call their global counterparts in the event of an event. a cybersecurity incident or when new threats have emerged.

Lyukmanov chastised governments such as the United States for being quick to blame Russia for cyberattacks without proper investigation, describing it as an attempt to undermine the efforts of international task forces, such as those led by the United Nations (UN), of which Russia was a part.

Adding that political discussions should not be intertwined with cybersecurity dialogues, he said nations should refrain from militarizing the digital sphere. He opposed countries that use ICTs for military purposes, emphasizing instead the need for dialogue.

He further noted that the international community would not be able to take concrete steps to establish new cyber standards for state behavior if there was no trust between nations.

US warns of risks from China-built infrastructure

US Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas, also in Singapore for the conference this week to speak at a closed-door briefing, answered questions from the media on Tuesday where he said the US cooperated with this region and other countries in different forms.

Mayorkas said: “We share information about known cyber threats. We share information about system vulnerabilities that are discovered. We share information about how to fix those vulnerabilities. We help with training. We have cyber emergency response teams that help countries respond to and remediate threats that have actually materialized.And the threats are diverse in nature, be it phishing, spear phishing, [and] Ransomware [which] is such a growing threat.

“So we have seen a number of attacks. They have been perpetrated by cybercriminals as well as adversarial nation states such as Russia, PRC, North Korea and Iran,” he said. declared.

He also highlighted the need to work with the private sector and academia in a collective approach to cybersecurity. Noting that most US critical infrastructure was in private hands, he said the US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) had created the Joint Cyber ​​Defense Collaborative (JCDC) as a framework to conduct the public-private partnership. This helped ensure an exchange of information between the two sectors, he said.

“The cyber threat is not specific to governments. So many private and public companies have been attacked by ransomware [and] suffered cyberattacks that it really takes a whole-of-society effort to strengthen the entire cyberecosystem,” he added.

Asked if the United States sees any risks in China’s efforts to build undersea internet cables and global nations exploiting those lines for connectivity, Mayorkas said: “I think all countries participating in the Singapore International Cybersecurity Week are well aware of the risks that are involved in conducting business and relying on the technology infrastructure provided by the PRC We have seen the potential results [and] harmful consequences of doing so.

“When countries fall behind in their loan repayments to the PRC, there is a technological vulnerability to predict its infrastructure on the PRC’s assets,” the US government official said. “It is a risk that we have communicated and that I intend to communicate [here at the conference].”

No country knows everything

During the panel discussion, Owusu-Ekuful also stressed the importance of global consensus.

“We’re all in this together…we sink or swim [together] in cyberspace, where there is no big or small country. Countries cannot adopt a know-it-all, “big brother” attitude when dealing with cyberspace. We must commit [in dialogue],” she says.

Multi-stakeholder efforts at the international level should seek to establish legal and regulatory frameworks that provide opportunities for all to engage as equal partners, she added.

Also emphasizing the importance of information sharing, she noted that Ghana had set up CERTs (Computer Emergency Response Teams) both at national and sectoral level, with industries such as banking and financial services as well as telecommunications, each with its own CERT.

Plans are currently underway to also establish CERTs for the transport and energy industries, she said, adding that the West African nation had designated 189 Critical Information Infrastructure (CII) owners. in 13 sectors. These CERTs constantly transmit cyber threat and security information to the national CERT as part of efforts to facilitate faster response to attacks and potential risks, Owusu-Ekuful said.

As “one sneeze” in cyberspace could cause everyone to catch a cold, she said the ability to react quickly was essential to cyber defense and protecting CIIs.

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